I ate shellfish for the first time when I was 19. It took about three times before the Allergy Lightbulb went on over my head. I'd get a smattering of hives, a loopy/lightheaded feeling, and then finally, after a fateful all-you-can-eat shrimp bingefest at the beach, I got violently ill and threw up. Okay, I get it. I bought some Benadryl and immediately felt better after chugging it right in front of the cashier. No big deal, I didn't even like shrimp that much; I just ordered the all-you-can-eat because it was a really good deal.
(Which I didn't even get to really capitalize on, as my reaction set in while I was still on my first serving.)
Since I'd only ever tried shrimp, I never thought of it as a proper "shellfish allergy," though, and years later went on to try all the other delicious options out there without a problem. So I assumed it was just shrimp, and then once accidentally consumed an entire plate of eggrolls before noticing they were full of shrimp on my very last bite. I was fine! Okay, allergy outgrown, or maybe it never really existed. Maybe that all-you-can-eat shrimp was just sketchy or something. (Imagine that!)
Which is why the first time I broke out in hives while eating crabs at the beach house I didn't really think too much about them. I'm such a rashy/hive-y person in general that I get them from just touching weird shit or changes in body temperature. And they always go away on their own.
The second time I broke out in hives while eating crabs I thought they were mosquito bites, because they were so much bigger and itchier than usual.
You can see where this is going.
I don't eat crabs that often -- unlike shrimp, I love them PASSIONATELY, but they are typically just a beach house indulgence. But this year there was this one crab house offering crabs at REALLY good prices, even the jumbo ones, and was routinely tossing in way more than our actual order. And much like the sketchy boardwalk shrimp, I couldn't resist the siren call of a really good shellfish deal.
I ate whole jumbo crabs four times that week, plus a crab cake for lunch one day. Friday night was probably our biggest binge of the week, as I was bound and determined to overload my system with more crab in a week than it's ever eaten in the past decade combined.
By Saturday morning, as we frantically packed up the car because OH SHIT checkout time is 10 am not noon CHRIST we do this EVERY YEAR, I was...not feeling well at all. My face looked bloated, my stomach felt queasy and I was weak and unsteady on the stairs. I blamed general eating too much crappy junk food and drinking a lot of sweet cocktails and beer and staying up too late and you know, pretty much everything that typically causes my almost-40-year-old ass to not feel well and yet I insist on doing because it's not a vacation if I don't treat myself like 21-year-old hot garbage the whole time.
We stopped for lunch on the way home; I was starving but couldn't shake the nausea after the first bite. Jason kept scolding me about scratching my mosquito bites, and I kept arguing that the spot I was scratching didn't even have a bite. I was just having some weird full-body itching sensation going on. I was also lightheaded and dizzy and felt like I was getting a cold because I was suddenly super congested and coughing a bit. After awhile I realized the mysterious itching sensation was giving way to actual hives again.
The good news is that I felt almost immediately better after I was horrifically, violently ill once we were home. The bad news is that instead of bolting for the nearest bathroom, I made a strategic error and attempted to make it all the way up to our master bathroom and...well, fell a little short of the goalpost.
So it's been past time for me to get my rashy, reactive self to an allergist for awhile now, and I shall definitely do that. I'm hopeful this isn't going to be a dangerous sort of allergy but more of a HEY YOU SEE THOSE HIVES? THAT MEANS YOU SHOULD STOP NOW, GENIUS.
Just in case, though, my friend brought me a very thoughtful hostess gift last week:
So yay brb gonna go make a shellfish boil and eat a raw onion while rolling around in dustmites and huff some pollen. I'll be fine!